Dozens of frangipanis float in my private pool and a kingfisher flutters in the mahogany trees that frame my courtyard. The butler rings a gong and asks where I’d like afternoon tea to be placed.
I’m lapping up uber- luxury that’s a world away from my first trip here - backpacking in ‘old Bali’, back in the days of traversing cow paddocks to reach the beach - and it’s a relief to be bewitched anew by an island that remains both exotic and accessible.
What has changed is that now your accommodation in Bali can be a destination in itself.
Villa style travel - kicking back in your own private house and tropical garden- is a luxe indulgence in which Bali excels. But not all villas are created equal. The Kayumanis properties stand out for their spaciousness, contemporary style and intuitive service. Details like orchids, antiques, cinnamon scented potions, freshly baked cookies, piles of magazines and bikes create a homely atmosphere.
Lounging in the garden -walled living area, it would make perfect sense- and a sublime holiday- to go all Greta Garbo and revel in the seclusion of my villa.
But there’s so much about Bali that would be a shame to miss.
Kayumanis Jimbaran is situated in a relaxed beach district renowned for toes- in sand seafood eateries. Spared the clamour of built up enclaves, this part of southern Bali blends inviting beaches – of both surf and becalmed variety – with temples, markets, and the sophistication of nearby Nusa Dua.
Although Kayumanis abodes can also be found in Ubud and Nusa Dua, the Jimbaran villas are ideal for younger families thanks to their vast proportions – think a pool large enough for laps and a separate outhouse for kids in the mindfully segmented garden – easily arranged child minding and specialist activities like kids cooking classes.
Kayumanis properties situated on the coast pamper guests at the exclusive ‘beach bar’, sating with daybeds, snacks, drinks and helpful staff who can arrange stand up paddle- boarding or kayaking.
An essential southern Bali cultural immersion is the sunset performance of the animated Kecak dance at beachside Uluwatu temple. A series of acclaimed surf beaches roll out near here.
There’s something for everyone at laid –back Sanur, a short drive from Jimbaran. The ocean at Sanur is calm and appealing for snorkelling and the beachfront is skimmed by a five kilometre long bike track edged with lounges shaded by gargantuan trees and rustic eateries.
A block back from the beach, Sanur’s commercial strip now includes stores selling quality jewellery, clothing and home-wares at irresistible prices.
The variety of original art is confounding, with prices on par with prints back home. Most artists will happily modify a painting, or, if you’ll be around for a few days, create a customised artwork.
Some eateries at Sanur feature live entertainment – anything from rock to traditional Legong dancing – and covetable art and antiques. Standouts include CharMing, Art Cafe and Man Shed- a treasure trove of vintage cars and motorbikes.
For an escapist day trip, hop on a boat to Nusa Lembongan, an island with pretty villages and mellow beaches with corals offshore.
Although less than an hour’s drive away, mountain- set Ubud is distinctive for its zen vibe and visuals of deep jungle ravines, forests raucous with wildlife and stacks of incandescent green rice terraces. Regarded as Bali’s cultural heart, Ubud is replete with evening dance performances and cultural shows staged in evocative courtyards.
The time-frozen rural scenes and sleepy villages surrounding Ubud are ideally experienced by mountain-bike.
For the creatively inclined, Ubud has an abundance of art and culinary classes and the ‘Green Village’ eco education centre offers workshops.
It’s in the rainy season that Ubud is at its most atmospheric; afternoon skies become tempestuous, followed by exuberant afternoon downpours that bestow a misted magic upon the flamboyant tropical foliage. Happily, this is the most affordable and least crowded time to visit Bali.